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Future spaceships

Russia has no shortage of future spaceship designs and proposals, but as always the problem is in getting funding! The PTK NP looks to be the most certain at the time of writing, while the Kliper, Parom and TKS have been abandoned, though elements of their designs may still be used.


PPTS concept art

The PTK NP (ПТК НП, пилотируемый транспортный корабль нового поколения) – New Generation Crew Transport Spaceship (NG CTS) is the latest proposal for a new Russian manned spaceship to replace the Soyuz.

Previously known as the Advanced Crew Transportation System (PPTS, ППТС: Перспективная Пилотируемая Транспортная Система), the PTK NP was initially to have be a spacecraft designed co-operatively between RKK Energiya and the European Space Agency. Initial discussions between the two agencies began in 2007.

Various studies and talks were conducted, but in October 2008 ESA ultimately decided not to go ahead with the project. ESA instead intended to focus on developing its own Advanced Re-entry Vehicle (ARV), based on an upgraded ATV service module.

In early 2009, Roscosmos decided to put out a tender for Russian companies to develop the PTK NP. The companies competing were Energiya and Khrunichev, both spaceship-builders. On 6 April, Roskosmos announced the winner was Energiya.

There are three prospective versions of the PTK NP spacecraft:

The initial name for the spacecraft is the Rus’, «Русь». A competition to formally name it was held in 2015; on 15 January 2016 Roskosmos announced the craft was to be named Federatsiya, «Федерация» (Federation).

The returnable section of the manned PTK NP will be a cone-shape similar to the Soyuz, and may land under parachutes, and/or with rocket assistance. It may be re-usable for future flights, for up to 10 missions over its 15-year lifespan. The PTK NP will use environmentally-friendly propellants (kerosene fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer for the rocket’s first stage; liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen for the second).

The PTK NP was to be launched on the new Rus-M launcher, to be produced by the Samara Space Center, who came up with the preliminary design in 2010. The launcher was to replace the Soyuz-FG rocket, but was cancelled in October 2011 due to cost.

It will have a new seat design called Cheget (after a Caucasus mountain). Unlike the Soyuz seat – which has to have a fitted custom molded liner for every passenger – the 27 kg Cheget will be adjustable for different sizes, saving on mission costs and time. It will still be manufactured by NPP Zvezda.

Previous projects


The Kliper (“Clipper”) was first announced at an ITAR-TASS press conference on 17 February 2004 by then-head of Rosaviakosmos, Yurii Koptev. Energiya had begun working on the design of this new spaceship in 2000. Lack of funding initially hindered further development. The Kliper was included in the Russian government space plan for 2005-2015.

The Kliper configuration underwent a few changes since it was announced. In 2005 a plan was announced for an orbital tug called “Parom” to dock with a lighter Kliper version (both launched on a smaller booster than the proposed Soyuz-3 rocket) and then tow it to the ISS.

On 10 June 2005 ESA Director Genereal Jean-Jacques Dordain met with Anatoly Perminov, Head of the Federal Space Agency, to discuss future ESA-Russia space co-operation in the areas of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration; Launchers; Telecommunications, Navigation, and Earth Observation. Regarding Kliper, it was agreed to develop a joint plan of work, to be presented at the ESA Ministerial Council in December 2005. At the December meeting, ESA government ministers initially declined the proposal to participate in the Kliper program (a 2-year research effort costing 51 million euros – $59.8 million), but did not reject it outright.

Such co-operation would be advantageous to both organizations, sharing the funding and development costs and giving ESA additional access to space. The Kliper could be launched from Russian facilities and the European space port in Kourou, French Guiana.

On 18 January 2006 Roskosmos put out a tender for the development of the Kliper, to be decided between the companies RKK Energiya, GKNPTs Khrunichev and NPO Molniya. The results were initially to be announced in the first half of February, but delayed this to April, the reason given being financial, safety and delivery data in bids. Energiya remained the favorite for the contract.

But in July Anatolii Perminov announced that Roskosmos was suspending the tender and instead would concentrate on developing a manned Soyuz-style space system first; a vehicle that would be capable of lunar circumnavigation flights using a Soyuz spaceship and a habitation module based on the Kliper’s cabin module. Energiya was selected to lead this development; it would continue to develop the Kliper in the meantime, though at a slower pace with less funding. Its plan was to develop Kliper by 2015 and field-test it in 2016.

The-then President of Energiya, Nikolai Sevastyanov, was the main proponent of Kliper, but the design proved too ambitious and expensive, and he was ousted as President, and Kliper was abandoned.

Energiya Kliper diagram, February 2006

Energiya Kliper computer concept illustration, February 2006

Technical data

The Kliper would carry 2 pilots and up to 4 passengers. It would have a launch escape system similar to that of the Soyuz spacecraft.

It was of an aerodynamic lifting-body-type design and could thus conduct gliding maneuvers during re-entry (up to 500 km either side of its ground track), unlike the ballistic Soyuz Descent Module. Thermal protection systems were derived from both the Buran and Soyuz. It had a length of 10 meters and maximum diameter of 3.6 meters. The propulsion system is UDMH (Unsymmetric Dimethyl Hydrazine, propellant fuel) and Nitrogen Tetroxide (N2O4, an oxidizer).

Two design modifications were possible:

  1. Load-carrying hull. This would enable the Kliper to land on any flat surface using its 3 parachutes, similar to the Soyuz today.
  2. An aircraft-type hull (winged version). This lifting-body design, developed with the OKB Sukhoi design bureau, would limit the Kliper to landing on a runway like the Space Shuttle, but increase its gliding range from 500 km to 2000 km.

The inner crew compartment could be slotted inside either design, depending upon the flight requirements.

The Kliper was to be partly reusable, with a detachable front re-entry capsule which landed with the aid of three parachutes and solid-propellant engines. The habitation module (OA) was mounted behind the re-entry capsule and contained docking hardware and life-support systems. Surrounding this was the PAO which contained power supplies (power supplied by two solar panels) and orbital maneuvering systems. Both OA and PAO were to bejettisoned on re-entry to the atmosphere.

Reuse after each flight:

Replace after each flight:

The estimated development cost of the Kliper was 10 billion rubles.

There were currently three possible launch rockets proposed:

  1. Onega, a proposed new generation rocket from Energiya. It is a modified Soyuz rocket, and would be launched from a Plesetsk launch pad.
  2. The Angara booster rocket, another new-generation rocket under development.
  3. The Ukrainian Zenit, launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Kliper could even possibly have been launched from other pads, such as the ESA pad in Kourou, French Guiana.

Kliper cutaway diagram (Novosti Kosmonavtiki)

Kliper cutaway diagram. Top descriptions, left to right:

Bottom descriptions, left to right:

Some Kliper technical data, in English and Russian:

Kliper piloted spacecraft
Mass, kilograms 13,000
• Re-entry module, mass 8800
• Habitation module, mass 4200
Crew number 6
Cargo mass, kg
• Launched 500
• Returned 500
• Moved away 200
Volume of flight deck, m³ 20
Time of autonomous flight, days 5
Maximum time spent docked to orbital station, days 360
G-force loads, regular descent profile 2.5
Carrier-rocket Zenit-2SLB
«Клипер» пилотируемый космический корабль
Масса, кг, в т. ч. 13,000
• возвращаемый аппарат 8800
• агрегатно-бытовой отсек 4200
Колическво членов экипажа, чел. 6
Масса грузов, кг
• доставляемых 500
• возвращаемых 500
• удаляемых 200
Объем кабины экипажа, м³ 20
Время автономного полека, сут. 5
Время нахождения в составе орбитальной станции, сут. 360
Перегрузки при штатном спуске, ед. 2.5
Ракета-носитель «Зенит-2SLБ»


Parom orbital tug (Energiya)

The Parom (“Ferry”) was a proposed reusable replacement for the Progress cargo ship, and would also serve as an unmanned orbital tug for the Kliper spaceship. The Parom is a different concept to the Progress. It would be launched into orbit and wait near the Space Station for cargo containers to be launched later; these containers would not need the complex guidance systems currently used by the Progress. The containers would dock with the Parom, which would in turn guide and propel itself to dock with the ISS. The Parom has docking ports at each end, and fuel transfer lines so that fuel can be transferred through it from the cargo container to the Station. It could also propel a payload into a higher orbit, or take a waste container down to the atmosphere to be incinerated, and head up back to orbit after releasing this. The 6800 kg Parom’s engines could handle cargo up to 27 215 kg.

It was proposed that the Parom could be used to tow a lighter version of the Kliper to the ISS. The reason for this was so that both ships could be launched on a version of the existing Soyuz-2 rocket (designated Soyuz-2-3), rather than a modified Soyuz-3, Zenit-2 or not-yet-developed Angara-2. The Soyuz-2-3 could also be launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana; the equatorial location means that more payload could be carried into orbit (the Earth rotates faster at the Equator and acts as a slingshot to help propel a spacecraft into orbit).

Cargo container (Energiya)


The TKS (Транспортный корабль снабжения, Transportniy Korabl Snabzheniya, transport supply ship) was a proposed manned spaceship by the Khrunichev design bureau, based on the original TKS series developed from the 1960s. It would carry up to 6 crew and 6350 kg of cargo to Low Earth Orbit, and be used up to 10 times. Its launch vehicle would be the Angara A3M rocket. The TKS vaguely resembled the Apollo capsule in shape. For the January 2006 tender Khrunichev put forward several versions of the basic TKS (manned and unmanned) for consideration, but with the cancellation of the tender in July, the status of the TKS is unknown.

Updated 28 Jan 2016